MFA in Creative Writing - Financial Support

MFA in Creative Writing - Financial Support

Supporting Your MFA Journey

It can be difficult to sustain a life in the arts, especially with the high cost of living in the Bay Area, but the SMC MFA aims to provide all students with meaningful financial support that aligns with their needs and interests—with a particular eye toward supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds, first generation students, and others who have historically not had access to a graduate education.

Thanks to the generosity of Saint Mary's College, our MFA Advisory Board, our Alumni Circle, and our community partners, we are proud to offer a range of scholarships, fellowships, professional development opportunities and on campus positions that help make the MFA a sustainable financial choice, often while providing valuable training and experience that can open doors after graduate school.

Tuition Costs

Tuition Costs for 2023-2024

Saint Mary's MFA in Creative Writing is a two-year high-residency MFA program and our yearly tuition cost for the upcoming 2023-2024 academic year is $31,689. Every matriculated student is locked into their tuition rate for the two years they are enrolled full-time, meaning that the total cost for our two year program is $63,378.

We Offer Some Form of Scholarship Funding for All Accepted Students

Funding is always a crucial component to consider when applying to MFA's. While we are not a fully funded program, all of our students receive some form of tuition scholarship during their two years in the program. 

All applicants are automatically considered for the Program's merit-based scholarships by way of their application materials. No additional materials are required. Every accepted applicant receives some scholarship award. We work year round to raise scholarship funds and do our best to announce scholarships in conjunction with acceptances.

Additionally, we offer opportunities for additional funding in the form of Program Assistantships, Teaching Fellowships, and other SMC/Community partnerships which include the opportunity to work in our writing center, to teach first-year composition, and work in other writing-centric roles associated with the larger campus community. We are a small campus so we are always looking for creative ways to help various college and community partners while providing funding and professional experience for our MFA students.

To be considered for these additional non-teaching opportunities, students are encouraged to respond "Yes" to the "Would you like to be considered for the MARY Journal Managing Editor Fellowship or any of our Community Partner Fellowship?" question on the Personal Statement page of the application—those interested in pursuing a Teaching Fellowship are asked to respond "Yes" and submit an additional Teaching Fellowship Essay in the Additional Requirements section of the application.

At the very least, federal unsubsidized graduate student loans are available to most domestic graduate students. You'll want to be sure to complete a FAFSA alongside your Saint Mary's application for maximum financial aid options. You can find out more about federal graduate student loans on the financial aid website.


Students in a creative writing workshop

Recognizing Literary Potential

General Scholarships

All SMC MFA students receive financial support in the form of a general scholarship to help cover a significant portion of their cost of tuition.

Literary Awards

The program also offers financial assistance in the form of literary awards to students whose literary craft demonstrates exceptional promise—with particular attention to recognizing students at a pivotal stage in their artistic development. 

Outside Funding 

The SMC MFA program is always on the lookout for ways to connect students with outside funding opportunities, external scholarships, fellowships and other forms of financial support.

Teaching Fellowships

Students attending Pause for Poetry.

Preparing a New Generation of Writing Teachers

Composition Fellowships

During Year One, Composition Fellows study Composition pedagogy and prepare their own teaching materials in preparation to lead their own first year writing class in SMC's nationally-recognized Composition program.

Writing Center Fellows

During Year One, Writing Center Fellows study writing pedagogy and advise students in SMC's innovative Center for Writing Across the Curriculum in preparation to lead their own small group Writing Circles in Year Two. 

The New Literary Project Fellowship

In partnership with Bay Area non-profit The New Literary Fellowship, these students spend a semester teaching creative writing in an area high school, working with students who have historically not had access to workshop experiences and helping them prepare a piece of writing for a literary anthology.


Professional Development Opportunities

MFA student with novelist Margaret Wilkerson-Sexton.

Training and Experience for Life after the MFA

Graduate Assistantships

SMC MFA program awards graduate assistantships that cover the cost of attendance for students in roles that support the program and provide valuable training in literary arts administration. 

Community Partnerships

The SMC MFA program has a long history of partnering with community organizations that share our values. Students routinely engage in part-time opportunities—and earn valuable course credit along the way. 

Campus Positions 

Many SMC students find positions on campus that suit their skills and interests. We are always on the lookout to place our graduates students in jobs on campus.

School and Department Information

Chris Feliciano Arnold
Director, MFA in Creative Writing

Collin Skeen
Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment